As we enter the 21st Century, the United States remains a nation of consumers. We Americans consume more goods than any other nation on Earth. Domestic and international manufacturers inundate our communities with all kinds of products. From cars to pharmaceuticals, and medical devices to imported Chinese drywall, we consumers rely on the manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to safely design, produce, and market the things we buy.
In cases involving dangerous products there is good news and bad news. The good news is that Florida law mandates that each person or entity that designs, manufactures, or sells a product is considered to be in “the stream of commerce” and is therefore independently responsible for the damages caused by that product. This is particularly helpful in cases in which the manufacturer is a foreign entity.
For example, a retailer such as Walmart that sells a defective and dangerous child’s toy that has unforgivable counts of lead and which is manufactured in China is fully and completely responsible for any injuries and damages that the toy causes. Even though Walmart may have purchased that toy from a national distributor who, in turn, may have purchased that toy from an international wholesaler, who, in turn, may have purchased that toy directly from the manufacturer in China, Walmart is held “strictly liable” to compensate the victim for his or her injuries and damages. This is the good news.
The bad news is that all too often those standards that are issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission or the Food and Drug Administration are ignored by the manufacturer. Even worse, there are some companies that actually meet the guidelines but those guidelines are so inadequate that they truly do not protect the consumer from the danger. This is often true in cases in which a vehicle meets or even exceeds the very basic federal standards related to rollover prevention and stability control but catastrophic injuries occur because the physics involved in such an event are so overwhelming that the minimal standards simply are not stringent enough to ensure safety.
At The Ellsley Law Firm, we consult with former industry insiders and utilize corporate documents to show not simply that those companies in the stream of commerce actually knew how dangerous the product they sold was, but that the leaders of those companies callously promoted the product to as many consumers as possible simply to increase the bottom line and enrich shareholders.